CIA Gave Aid to Tibetan Exiles in 1960s, Files Show

by Jim Mann, Times Staff Writer (September 15 1998)

WASHINGTON – For much of the 1960s, the CIA provided the Tibetan exile movement with $1.7 million a year for operations against China, including an annual subsidy of $180,000 for the Dalai Lama, according to newly released US intelligence documents.

The money for the Tibetans and the Dalai Lama was part of the CIA’s worldwide effort during the height of the Cold War to undermine Communist governments, particularly in the Soviet Union and China. In fact, the US government committee that approved the Tibetan operations also authorized the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

The documents, published last month by the State Department, illustrate the historical background of the situation in Tibet today, in which China continues to accuse the Dalai Lama of being an agent of foreign forces seeking to separate Tibet from China.

The CIA’s program encompassed support of Tibetan guerrillas in Nepal, a covert military training site in Colorado, “Tibet Houses” established to promote Tibetan causes in New York and Geneva, education for Tibetan operatives at Cornell University, and supplies for reconnaissance teams.

“The purpose of the program … is to keep the political concept of an autonomous Tibet alive within Tibet and among foreign nations, principally India, and to build a capability for resistance against possible political developments inside Communist China”, explains one memo written by top US intelligence officials.


Relationship Was Mutually Beneficial


The declassified historical documents provide the first inside details of the CIA’s decade-long covert program to support the Tibetan independence movement. At the time of the intelligence operation, the CIA was seeking to weaken Mao Tse-tung’s hold over China. And the Tibetan exiles were looking for help to keep their movement alive after the Dalai Lama and his supporters fled Tibet following an unsuccessful 1959 revolt against Chinese rule.

Tibetan exiles and the Dalai Lama have acknowledged for many years that they once received support from US intelligence. But until now, Washington has refused to release any information about the CIA’s Tibetan operations.

The US intelligence support for the Tibetans ended in the early 1970s after the Nixon administration’s diplomatic opening to China, according to the Dalai Lama’s writings, former CIA officials, and independent scholars.

The Dalai Lama wrote in his autobiography that the cutoff in the 1970s showed that the assistance from the Americans “had been a reflection of their anti-Communist policies rather than genuine support for the restoration of Tibetan independence”.

The newly published files show that the collaboration between US intelligence and the Tibetans was less than ideal. “The Tibetans by nature did not appear to be congenitally inclined toward conspiratorial proficiency”, a top CIA official says ruefully in one memo.

The budget figures for the CIA’s Tibetan program are contained in a memo dated January 09 1964. It was evidently written to help justify continued funding for the clandestine intelligence operation.

“Support of 2,100 Tibetan guerrillas based in Nepal: $500,000”, the document says. “Subsidy to the Dalai Lama: $180,000”. After listing several other costs, it concludes: “Total: $1,735,000”. The files show that this budget request was approved soon afterward.

A later document indicates that these annual expenses continued at the same level for four more years, until 1968. At that point, the CIA scrubbed its training programs for Tibetans inside the United States and cut the budget for the entire program to just below $1.2 million a year.

In his 1990 autobiography, Freedom in Exile, the Dalai Lama explained that his two brothers made contact with the CIA during a trip to India in 1956. The CIA agreed to help, “not because they cared about Tibetan independence, but as part of their worldwide efforts to destabilize all communist governments”, the Dalai Lama wrote.

“Naturally, my brothers judged it wise to keep this information from me. They knew what my reaction would have been.”

The Dalai Lama also wrote regretfully in his book that the CIA had trained and equipped Tibetan guerrillas who conducted raids into Tibet from a base camp in Nepal.

The effect of these operations “only resulted in more suffering for the people of Tibet. Worse, these activities gave the Chinese government the opportunity to blame the efforts of those seeking to regain Tibetan independence on the activities of foreign powers – whereas, of course, it was an entirely Tibetan initiative.”

Lodi Gyari, the Dalai Lama’s personal representative in Washington, said last week that he had no knowledge of the CIA’s $180,000-a-year subsidy or how the money was spent.

“I have no clue whatsoever”, Gyari said. Speaking more generally of the CIA’s past support for the Tibetans, Gyari acknowledged: “It is an open secret. We do not deny it.”


Agency Has Resisted Release of Details

The CIA has long resisted efforts to disclose information about its Tibetan operations.

In 1993, then-CIA Director R James Woolsey promised to declassify and release the records of six CIA covert operations during the Cold War, involving France, Italy, Indonesia, Laos, North Korea, and Tibet. But this year, CIA Director George J Tenet said the agency did not have the money or personnel to do this for the foreseeable future.

The Tibet documents were released not by the CIA but by the State Department, which has responsibility for regularly publishing documents that show the history of US foreign policy.

Warren W Smith Jr, author of a recent book on the history of Tibet, said he believes that the newly published documents are the first to describe the CIA’s Tibetan operations.

Until now, information about the CIA plans has come from “[Tibetan] exiles and a few old CIA agents”, Smith said. “None of the agents involved would know detailed information about things like the budget”.

The CIA was not the only intelligence service to support the Tibetans. India also helped, and, according to Smith’s book, Indian intelligence officials even organized a Tibetan unit within the Indian army.

The newly published documents show, however, that Tibetan leaders sometimes complained to Washington that they weren’t getting sufficient backing from India.

The documents provide no details about the $180,000-a-year subsidy to the Dalai Lama. But they suggest that the money was used to pay for the staff and other costs of supporting his activities on behalf of the Tibetan people.

The same 1964 memo speaks of “continuing the support subsidy to the Dalai Lama’s entourage at Dharamsala”, the city in northern India that has served as the Dalai Lama’s headquarters and the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.


Eisenhower Team Gave Initial Approval


A brief internal history of the CIA’s Tibet operations shows that the Eisenhower administration first formally approved covert support to the Tibetan resistance in September 1958, at a time when the Tibetans were conducting guerrilla raids against Chinese army units.

The US intelligence operations were overseen in Washington by the executive branch’s top-secret “303 Committee”. On May 20 1959, only a few weeks after the unsuccessful Tibetan revolt, the 303 Committee approved the first covert support specifically for the Dalai Lama, who had just arrived in India. These covert CIA programs were re-approved several times during the 1960s.

In 1964, the CIA decided that one of the main problems facing the Tibetans was “a lack of trained officers equipped with linguistic and administrative abilities”. As a result, it decided to educate 20 Tibetans. “Cornell University has tentatively agreed to provide facilities for their education”, the CIA explains in one memo.

The Cornell program did not last long. In 1967, after Ramparts magazine disclosed that the CIA had been secretly funding the activities of the National Student Association in the United States, the CIA restricted its activities on US university campuses.

The files show that the Tibetans were keeping close track of US policy toward China. In fact, they sometimes had a better sense of what the US was about to do about China than did the rest of the world.

On December 06 1968, a month after Richard Nixon was elected president but before he took office, the Dalai Lama’s brother told a senior State Department official that the Tibetan exiles were afraid “of an accommodation the United States might make with the Chinese Communists”.

Undersecretary of State Eugene V Rostow told him not to worry. Rostow said that “we [the United States] would not make any accommodation with the Chinese Communists at the expense of Tibet”.

Over the next four years, the Nixon administration carried out its opening to China, and the CIA’s Tibetan operations were shut down.

Now, more than a quarter of a century later, the US government is providing some financial support for Tibetans, but openly and through other channels.

In recent years, Congress has approved about $2 million annually in funding for Tibetan exiles in India. Congress has also urged the administration to spend another $2 million for democracy activities among the Tibetans.

Japan’s Collaboration with Washington

Everything Goes as Long as it is Against China

by Andre Vltchek (January 23 2020)

Officially, the relationship between Japan and China is “somehow improving”. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is even expecting a visit by President Xi Jinping this spring.

But, frankly, the relationship between the two mightiest countries in Asia is up and down, still very complex, and hardly transparent.

To date, the US nuclear-armed air force bases in Okinawa – Kadena and Futenma – are just a stones-throw away from several major Chinese cities. Kadena likes to boast, describing itself as being “the largest and most active US Air Force base in the Far East”. A few years ago, I made a documentary film about both, for the South American network – Telesur.

What shocked me then is still true now: Japan, which brutalized, horrifically, both China and Korea during World War Two, and Japan which helped the West in its effective efforts to murder millions of North Koreans during the so-called Korean War, seems to feel no remorse or has no second thoughts about hosting the most destructive force on Earth, that of the United States. Tokyo is perfectly well aware that, that force is pointed at both China and North Korea, and even potentially at the Russian Far East. Protesters in front of both air-force bases are few, and mainly consist of old Okinawans, shouting into their ancient loudspeakers, in a grotesquely politely manner:



Go home from Okinawa. Please go home!


During my filming there, Douglas Lummis, an ex-US Air Force pilot who is now a writer and a professor, explained the situation to me, during my visit to the city of Nahu:



Okinawa hosts about 75 percent of the American troops and American facilities in Japan. It’s out of sight and out of mind of most of the Japanese people on the mainland. Okinawa is a thousand miles away from Tokyo, from the capital. If you talk to Okinawans they’re angry and disappointed that for over 60 years now they’ve been asked to essentially shoulder the American-Japanese military alliance. The military alliance with America is also accompanied by what critics would say a subservient attitude towards Washington in general. Japan rarely balks against what Washington wishes on foreign policy.


Many Okinawans are petrified. Historically, their kingdom used to be very close to China. They do not want any confrontation with the most populous nation on Earth. They know what I was once told in Beijing: if the United States were to dare to attack the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) from Okinawa, the retaliation would be immediately conducted against these islands.

Like Israel and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, Japan is the closest and the most determined ally of the West in the so-called Far East. It does precisely what it is told by Washington, and it hardly ever complains.

Ideologically, it had adopted the Western dogmas of anti-Communism, extreme capitalism, and exceptionalism.

In fact, it often appears more anti-Chinese than even the United States.

By collaborating with Washington and London, it gets away with its own regional neo-colonialist approach.

For decades, its dealings with Southeast Asia have been thoroughly appalling, but they are never discussed in the Western or Japanese mass media. To give just one example: the Japanese car and scooter industry has already ruined all the major cities of Southeast Asia, bribing state and city governments, making sure that they do not build decent public transportation networks, instead throwing into the clogged streets, millions and millions of (old model) Japanese cars and scooters. Consequently, the environment is ruined, making urban areas like Jakarta, Bangkok, and Bandung some of the most desperately contaminated cities on Earth.

The same goes for human brains. Japanese universities and institutions are selecting and funding talented and independent-minded young people, arming them with scholarships, and then re-educating them, so they do not pose a threat to Western and Japanese interests in the so-called Far East. Only a few can resist invitations to study at prestigious Japanese universities, where they are stripped of all revolutionary zeal, while offered such a toxic cocktail of academic topics such as “democracy” and “communication”. Life in Japan is comfortable, safe, and easy to get used to. But the price is often steep – treason.

The Japanese regime expects the foreign subsidized students to turn into fanatically anti-Chinese, anti-Russian, and anti-Communist mainstream individuals. They are taught how to be reasonable – accepting without blinking all the crimes committed by the West and Japan itself, in their own countries and in all corners of the world.

I have witnessed the process with my own eyes: one of my film editors had been re-educated in one of such programs.




Some time ago, my friend, the legendary Australian historian, Prof Geoffrey Gunn, told me in Nagasaki something that is becoming increasingly true now:

The fact of the matter is that China is indignant at its encirclement. China is indignant that Washington backs Japan, that Washington is ready to support Japan’s non-negotiation policy over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. So, we see, in this situation, a clearly indignant China, and Japan that is taking a basically aggressive position in relation to so-called territorial integrity. So Pacific Asia is increasingly becoming more belligerent, more conflict-prone East Asia.




Japan’s collaboration, be it intellectual, military, or economic, appears to be permanent and relentless. What was true in 2015, is even more so in 2019 and 2020. As we were inserting images from Hong Kong’s ‘Umbrella Revolution’ into my film with Noam Chomsky, my Japanese film editor, Hata Takeshi, commented:



In Japan, people will not understand that the West is behind those ‘color revolutions’ and recent events in Hong Kong. Here, there is total consensus that Hong Kong was a movement for freedom and democracy. It is because there are hardly any alternative sources of information available.


And now, on 16 January 2020, deep in Central Japan, I turned on the television set, and, to some extent masochistically, decided to view 9 News Watch.

Anti-Chinese propaganda of the most outrageous grain, began flowing from the monitor. The voices of the presenters were soft and polite, but the message was so aggressive, so rude and one-sided, that it sent shivers all down my back. There was nothing of the refined propaganda, perfected by various big media outlets in the United Kingdom. And nothing of those pathetic US attempts to appear even-handed. This was raw stuff, like the reciting of some religious sermon. I summarize:



Xi is a powerful and fearful figure … He is not informed well about the events in Hong Kong and Taiwan, because people are terrified of him … Because of his policies, which include the anti-corruption drive, he has an increasing number of enemies …


The station then began broadcasting long shots of Hong Kong rioters, and those protesting against Mainland China in Taipei.

Then came Trump, introduced in the most servile and respectful way.

The announcer’s litany continued:



US-China trade dispute … Selfish behavior of China …


But there was, obviously “good news”, as far as Japan was concerned:



The US is now being stricter with China … now that there are those issues of the Uyghurs … the anniversary of Tiananmen Square … of course, other countries are urging China to behave according to the international rules.


Everything is thrown together, mixed, twisted, and delivered in a tone of voice similar to that which announces the arrival of an inter-city train.

All is done in a gentle language, but it is what it is: the relentless flow of the most dirty, aggressive propaganda.

In the end, I recall what my friend, Professor David McNeill, who used to work for the NHK, once told me:



There is no foreign policy of Japan. They do what they are told by Washington. And there is nothing important that the Japanese television networks would say or broadcast, unless it has been aired or pronounced in the US or UK.


I know he is right. I used to work for one of the most important daily newspapers in Japan. In a war zone. It was a long time ago, but nothing has really changed. They wouldn’t publish anything without consulting their Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo. I am not joking!

Quite a democracy, I have to tell you; quite a communication.




On 30 January 2017, RT reported:

The neo-conservative Henry Jackson Society (HJS) think tank is on the payroll of the Japanese embassy, charged with drafting in public figures to spread anti-Chinese propaganda, investigators claim.

The Times’ investigation suggests the London-based HJS is paid 10,000 GBP (US$12,500) per month to spread anti-Chinese propaganda, including through public figures like the former British Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind.

HJS frames itself as a pro-intervention and pro-capitalist voice, which aims to spread freedom and democracy around the world. It is run by the academic and failed Tory parliamentary candidate Alan Mendoza.

Yes, apparently Japan dislikes China so much, that it cannot produce all that anti-Chines propaganda using its own people. It needs more and more, including help from abroad. And it is willing to pay.

It must be the only occupied country on Earth, that is spending its own money to glorify its colonizer’s doctrine!


Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including China and Ecological Civilization (2019). He writes especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook.

China, Iran, and North Korea are Almost Encircled by 500 US Military Bases

by Shane Quinn

Global Research (February 07 2020)

US President Donald Trump’s approval ratings, at 49%, are now at their highest ever level since his assumption to office three years ago {1}. Trump is a heavy favourite to be re-elected in November, a likelihood which the ever-growing number of Western bookmakers unanimously agree upon, with Bernie Sanders a somewhat distant second favourite.

It should be clear to anyone by now, that the Western media campaign against Trump over the past four years has been an utter and complete fiasco. Trump’s acquittal in the impeachment trial now constitutes another blow to his enemies.

The mass media, often echoing the Democratic Party stance in America, have been focusing on the wrong issues in a self-serving and ill-judged effort to discredit Trump. The attempts in linking him to Moscow have been disingenuous for the most part, routinely overlooking Bill Clinton’s blatant interference in the 1996 Russian presidential elections – Clinton, while dining at the Kremlin on 21 April 1996, actually informed Russia’s electorate they had better vote the right way, that is for Washington’s proxy incumbent Boris Yeltsin, or otherwise there would be “consequences” {2}.

Broadly speaking, the press has avoided mentioning the greatest dangers posed by Trump’s presidency: the growing possibility of nuclear war with Russia or China as weapons treaties are abandoned, along with his administration’s contempt for the environment and climate change.

Under Trump, there has been an ongoing rise too in military expenditure (described ironically as “defence spending”) with many hundreds of billions of dollars forked out each year, dwarfing China’s arms expenses in second place, with Russia barely featuring {3}. It is quite a defensive operation that the Pentagon has been pursuing with three of its main adversaries, China, Iran, and North Korea, almost surrounded by about 500 US military bases.

On its own, China is ringed by at least 400 of these bases stretching from northern Australia, up through the Pacific, across eastern and central Asia {4}. This encirclement of China – the largest military build-up since the mid-1940s, involving warships, submarines, and bombers, et cetera – was implemented by President Barack Obama following his announcement in late 2011 of a “pivot” towards Asia.

In the post-1945 years, US global power reached its low point at the end of the George W Bush presidency in 2009. At that time, even the traditional “backyard” of Latin America was drifting away from US control, through the emergence of left-wing governments and establishment of greater integration between themselves.

Yet over the past decade, left-leaning Latin American administrations have largely disappeared, neither able to resist the temptations of corruption (notably in Brazil), nor were they capable of diversifying their economies away from a heavy dependence on raw materials like oil (Venezuela). Other major South American countries such as Argentina likewise relied on increases in commodity prices, which is a temporary phenomenon that before long declines {5}.

Former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez achieved commendable social advances, before his untimely death in March 2013, but he mistakenly remained reliant upon oil exports, failing to pursue sustainable economic initiatives centred on manufacturing or agriculture – with Venezuela possessing a potentially rich agricultural base.

Chavez’s immediate successor, Nicolas Maduro, has clearly had a central role in the crises engulfing Venezuelan society {6}. Living conditions are plummeting in Venezuela and millions of the country’s inhabitants have fled. Venezuela has by now become almost totally dependent on its oil industry, which is an ill recipe, to put it mildly.

The situation has degenerated due to Maduro’s shoddy handling of the economy and exacerbated further by the White House sensing blood with the implementation of crippling sanctions, worsening self-inflicted wounds.

In Venezuela and elsewhere, Washington’s “soft power” organisations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) have been funding elite opposition groups for years. While US interference in Venezuelan affairs has impacted seriously on the country, it has been a contributory factor to the turmoil, rather than the overwhelming cause.

To Maduro’s credit, he has managed so far to stabilise his position, and thwart US attempts to oust him, but by ensuring his government’s survival he must address an array of problems plaguing a country which holds the biggest oil reserves in the world – the principal reason why Washington is so intent on ousting Maduro.

Over the past decade in Latin America, right-wing governments have capitalised on the shortcomings of the left, usually with assistance from the Obama and Trump administrations. By now, the right has re-emerged strongly in Latin America, bolstered most recently in November 2019 with the US-backed ousting of Evo Morales in Bolivia, which Trump publicly applauded the following day, describing Morales’ demise as “a significant moment for democracy in the Western Hemisphere”. {7}

Washington has restored much of its former hold over the Western hemisphere, thereby pulling clear of the nadir of post-World War Two American power which heralded the end of Bush’s eight-year tenure.

Elsewhere, though it is important not to overstate it, China does represent a growing threat to the US financial world order. In the 21st century, Beijing’s creation of associations like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has been a significant development in international affairs, challenging World War Two-era institutions like the World Bank and IMF, both headquartered in Washington.

However, this is partly negated by China’s position on the UN Human Development Index (HDI) table, whereby it sits in 85th spot among the world’s countries, 13 places below Cuba.

The UN HDI provides a penetrating insight into a country’s living conditions, based on life expectancy, per person income and education. Despite some hysterical forecasts, it is unlikely that China will even come close to usurping America’s standing as the “global hegemonic power” in the foreseeable future, leaving the US in a continued unassailable position. {8}

Gross National Income (GNI) statistics reveal that the typical Chinese person earns less than a third of the annual salary by comparison to the average American. Altogether, living standards in China are also below that of Thailand, Colombia, and Algeria {9}.

Ideological corporate media accounts steeped in neoliberalism warn seriously about China’s imminent arrival as “the world’s biggest economy”, inevitably highlighting Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures to support their arguments, which in the manner used is highly misleading, glossing over a nation’s combined living standards {10}.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is presently constructing even more military bases mostly with China in mind, across far-flung destinations like northern Australia, the Japanese island of Okinawa, the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea, and also Syria. {11}

Further westwards, positioned at the heart of the Middle East is another long-time US foe: oil- and gas-rich Iran, a country which is encircled by 45 US military bases and around 70,000 American troops – with these bases and infantry located in various Middle East states and oil dictator countries like Bahrain, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, which hem Iran in around the Persian Gulf. {12}

The Middle East, swimming in oil and gas, is the most vital region on earth from an imperial strategic viewpoint, as has been recognised by US and British planners dating to World War Two.

US government fixation on Iran has little to do with concern for the Iranian populace, and much to do with the fact this nation contains the planet’s fourth-largest quantities of oil, along with the second-highest levels of gas. The Iranian leadership is quite repressive but the Saudi Arabian dictatorship, a key Western ally, is appreciably worse with a dismal human rights record stretching back decades.

Iran’s people have borne the brunt of US sanctions, at least in part because they had the temerity in 1979 to oust a US/UK puppet dictator, the Western-educated Shah. A fear has persisted among Western elites that Iranian nationalism could spread to neighbouring Iraq and, worse still, Saudi Arabia, though the latter possibility is slim at best. The fact that Iran is outside of US control is a separate reason for the intimidation, including outright military attack, a severe violation of the UN Charter.

The US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq had disastrous consequences, most worrying from an American viewpoint, closer relations did develop between Iran and a near decimated Iraq – two countries which together contain almost 20% of the world’s known oil reserves. America’s status in the Middle East is weaker as a consequence.

Other reckless and uncalled for actions, like assassinating an influential Iranian general last month, may further erode and undermine the US position along this critical area; but as in almost every region, the American military presence is uncontested, with additional thousands of US troops this year being dispatched to the Middle East.

As with China, its diminutive neighbour North Korea is largely surrounded by US military forces, advanced equipment, and bases. In the immediate vicinity of North Korea, the country is encompassed by 38 US bases, 15 of which are located in South Korea across the border where almost 30,000 US troops are stationed. Another 23 US Army installations are situated a little further to the east in Japan.

North Korea’s dynastic regime has managed to survive for over 70 years which, it must be said, is an astonishing feat, as this isolated country has consistently been under threat of an American invasion, and is enduring harsh sanctions which affect North Korea’s populace the most.

Since the Korean War (1950~1953) in which the US Air Force almost destroyed North Korea, the closest that the Kim dynasty came to being ousted was quite likely during the summer of 1994 when president Clinton nearly attacked North Korea with F-117 stealth aircraft and cruise missiles – as later attested to by Robert Gallucci, an Assistant Secretary of State during the Clinton years. {13}

With the Pentagon pondering an attack on North Korea in June 1994, US government officials estimated a death toll of up to a million people in the event of an invasion, which was finally deemed too risky and simply not worth it. Had the North Korean autocracy not armed themselves to the teeth as a deterrent, they would have been toppled long ago.

North Korea is positioned in one of the most strategically important parts of east Asia, hence the continued attention from US governments.


Shane Quinn obtained an honors journalism degree. He is interested in writing primarily on foreign affairs, having been inspired by authors like Noam Chomsky. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.


{1} Jeffrey M Jones, “Trump Job Approval at Personal Best 49%”, Gallup, 4 February 2020,

{2} Mike Eckel, “Putin’s ‘A Solid Man’: Declassified Memos Offer Window Into Yeltsin-Clinton Relationship”, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, 30 August 2018,

{3} Amanda Macias, “Trump signs $738 billion defense bill. Here’s what the Pentagon is poised to get”, CNBC, 20 December 2019,

{4} Joyce Glasser, “John Pilger’s Documentary is fascinating and disturbing”, Mature Times, 5 December 2016,

{5} Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, “Chomsky: Leftist Latin American Governments Have Failed to Build Sustainable Economies”, Democracy Now!, 5 April 2017,

{6} C J Polychroniou, “Noam Chomsky: Ocasio-Cortez and Other Newcomers Are Rousing the Multitudes”, Global Policy, 31 January 2019,

{7} Donald Trump, “Statement from President Donald J Trump Regarding the Resignation of Bolivian President Evo Morales”, The White House, 11 November 2019,

{8} Noam Chomsky, Who Rules The World? (Metropolitan Books, Penguin Books Ltd, Hamish Hamilton, 5 May 2016), page 57

{9} Human Development Reports, “Table 1: Human Development Index and its components”, United Nations Development Programme,

{10} Noah Smith, “Get Used To It America, We’re No Longer No. 1”, Bloomberg, 18 December 2018,

{11} Observatory Editor, “Two New US bases in Syria and an 85-year oil plan”, Observatory, 11 December 2019,

{12} Robert Fantina, “US Encircles Iran with 45 Bases, But Is Concerned With Iran’s Activities In Syria, American Herald Tribune, 16 January 2018,

{13} Jamie McIntyre, “Washington was on brink of war with North Korea 5 years ago”, CNN, 4 October 1999,

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Copyright (c) Shane Quinn, Global Research, 2020

Iran Attack on Two US Bases, the “Evil Empire” Strikes Back

The Casualties?

by Larry Romanoff

Global Research (February 09 2020)

After their excessive and macabre display of delight and satisfaction, and even celebration, over the killing of Solemani, the White House was tight-lipped about Iran’s almost immediate retaliatory missile attack on two US bases in Iraq, with Donald Trump soon claiming only a bit of physical damage, announcing on Twitter a day after the attack, “No Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime. We suffered no casualties.” Trump also stated there was no significant damage to the bases.

CNN initially reported that there were only casualties among Iraqi personnel but then quickly dropped the story altogether, initially stating “After days of anticipation, Tehran’s zero-casualty retaliation came as a relief to many”. {1} At the time, Iranian officials maintained that the US had suffered least 80 dead and perhaps 200 wounded in the attack.

That story is slowly unwinding to indicate something very different, with various Middle East media reporting multiple casualties, and statements from the US Central Command directly contradicting Trump’s comments.

First, Al-Qabas, a leading Arabic-language newspaper in Kuwait reported that after the attack 16 US servicemen had been flown in secrecy and “under tight security” to a US military hospital at Camp Arjifan in Ahmed Al-Jaber Air Base in Kuwait and that the men were clearly suffering from severe burns and shrapnel wounds. Al-Qabas further reported that all had undergone surgery but remained in the ICU at the hospital {2} {3}.

The paper later reported that another 8 casualties had been flown to Germany for treatment, with more to Camp Arjifan, and that many others with more minor injuries were being treated in Iraq. These flights were confirmed by the Pentagon, stating the soldiers had been flown to Germany and Kuwait for screening of “potential concussion injuries” and “possible brain injuries” and suffered in the attack.

US base, Iraq MEM

But then it seemed that every week the casualty list enlarged, now at 50 and still counting. In keeping with the US government’s war on truth, the US Central Command said, “it is possible additional injuries may be identified in the future”, apparently committing themselves to the political safety of drip-feeding fatalities and injuries on the pretense of them being unrelated.

Nevertheless, the US continues to inflate the number of troops diagnosed with “traumatic brain injuries” caused by Iranian missile strikes.

It seems perhaps politically expedient but humanly bizarre for Trump to have claimed, “I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say and I can report it is not very serious”, adding that he didn’t “consider them serious injuries relative to other injuries I’ve seen” {4}.

Then, Brigadier General Ali Hajizadeh, a senior commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, stated in a press conference that although Iran was not directly seeking to kill American soldiers, “at the very least, many tens of US troops have likely been killed”.

He said if deaths had been his intention, Iran’s missiles could have killed at least 5,000. He went on to document that the casualties from that attack “were transferred to Israel and Jordan on 9 sorties of C-130 flights”. The C-130 Hercules is a huge aircraft that can carry 100 passengers or 75 fully-equipped troops, so 9 flights would represent at least several hundred casualties.

Nevertheless, that military operation was described as merely “a slap in the face” to the US, and that “a harsher revenge” would soon come {5}.

Ali Hajizadeh also claimed that Iran had identified more than 100 critical US locations across the entire region, should the US “make any mistake again”. Reports are that Iran targeted the Ayn Al-Assad airbase because it holds the highest number of US troops in Iraq, but also because that is the base location of the American Reaper drones.

It is interesting that the casualties were experienced on a major American airbase equipped with the Patriot missile defense system, and that the Americans received ample warning (more than 6 hours) of the impending attack from several sources – the Danes, the Swiss authorities, and the Iraqi government. Danish soldiers said on Danish TV that they were given a 6-hour warning of the attack by the Iranians and shared this information {6} {7}.

In spite of what one writer termed “almost ideal conditions from the point of view of defense”, the Americans appear to have miserably failed in their ability to protect themselves. It isn’t clear how or why American soldiers would have incurred so many casualties, and especially brain damage from an attack they knew was coming. {8}

After the Saudi Aramco attacks, and after failing to even identify much less intercept the Iranian missiles in Iraq, it appears that the Patriot missiles are indeed what Foreign Policy termed “a lemon of a missile defense system”. Reports are that not even one Patriot missile was fired in defense against the 15 incoming missiles.

Researchers at the Defense and Arms Control Studies Program at MIT performed a detailed study of all available video evidence of the use and effectiveness of the American Patriot missile system and stated there was “no unambiguous evidence” that Patriot missiles destroyed even one incoming missile. It stated that “The videos instead contain substantial evidence that Patriot’s success rate was very low, possibly even zero”. {9}

Several troops to whom CNN spoke, said the event had shifted their view of warcraft: the US military is rarely on the receiving end of sophisticated weaponry, despite launching the most advanced attacks in the world. “You looked around at each other and you think: Where are we going to run? How are you going to get away from that?” said Ferguson. “I don’t wish anyone to have that level of fear”, he said. “No one in the world should ever have to feel something like that” {1}.

On January 13 2020, the Pentagon replied to a FOIA request from US Congressman B G Thompson on the casualties and damage sustained by the US in the Iranian missile attack. You can read his reply in the attached photo, but he stated the US military had incurred 139 deceased, 146 injured, and “extensive damage to 15 helicopters, 2 cargo aircraft, and 3 MQ-1 Predator drones”. He further outlined “extensive damage” to the base command center, hangars and barracks, the aircraft control tower, and the runways.

He said further that “initial assessments indicate mentioned damages will cause “total impairment … of airbase activities for at least 3 weeks”.

I want to make a request here. I don’t mean to tease you, but this is a trick question. Please read the above paragraph again, and identify what is to you the most important point.

* An elected US Congressman – the US Government in fact – had to resort to a Freedom of Information Request to learn the facts of a critical adventure experienced by his own military – a request that could easily have been refused on grounds of ‘national security’.

Thompson is not only an elected Congressman but the Chairman of the Department of Homeland Security, not a trivial position by any measure, and yet his personal requests for information must have been refused if he were forced to resort to FOIA for an answer. Who is the servant and whom the master? On this one metric alone, on what grounds can you rebut the double assertions that (1) the US government is not in control of the US and, (2) democracy in America is a dead corpse wearing a Disneyland shroud?


Iran Retaliates in Afghanistan


When the Taliban in Afghanistan claimed to have shot down an American military aircraft in Ghazni, Afghanistan, the US initially denied the event, then, after clear and graphic images were posted publicly, admitted the loss of a Bombardier E-11A plane. The US at first disclaimed knowledge of the number or identity of the crew or passengers, then claimed only two occupants, later revised to 6 after more photos emerged. Russian intelligence sources almost immediately claimed that American Michael D’Andrea was killed in that crash, the aircraft apparently serving as his mobile command post in Afghanistan. {10}

D’Andrea was a prominent figure, the head of Iran operations for the CIA, and the man who orchestrated the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani as well as other targeted murders. The New York Times claimed D’Andrea had overseen hundreds of drone strikes which “killed thousands of Islamist militants and hundreds of civilians”. The US government has officially denied his death and has refused requests to display him in public, which almost certainly means the claims of his death are accurate.

It was also speculated that Iran organised the downing of that aircraft, having previously provided considerable anti-aircraft hardware and training to the Taliban, and not being without intelligence sources of their own. Several Iranian journalists posted comments on social media that “the name of Iran will emerge in this case”, and “We are attacking them on the same level as they are attacking us”. An Italian reporter, Fabio Giuseppe Carlo Carisio, first published in Italy the news of D’Andrea having been killed, stating “The news is so big that we have to write it running the risk of a denial” {11}.


Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting firms and owned an international import-export business. He has been a visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr Romanoff lives in Shanghai and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and the West. He can be contacted at He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.




{3} ١٦ جندي أمريكي يعالجون في أحد المستشفيات بالكويت من أصابات خطيرة وحروق شديدة نتيجة الهجوم على قاعدة عين الأسد، وترامب يقول لم يصب أحد، وما خفي أعظم; — د. صلاح الفضلي {@salahfadly} January 19, 2020








{11}; Veterans Today, January 28, 2020

Featured image is from the author

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Copyright (c) Larry Romanoff, Global Research, 2020

Expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

Tehran Wants to Build “the Golden Ring”

BRI-led Eurasian integration processes are one of the defining characteristics of contemporary international relations, and the Golden Ring could eventually become the centerpiece of these efforts if Ambassador Hosseini’s W-CPEC+ proposal succeeds, especially if it’s done in parallel with N-CPEC+.

by Andrew Korybko

Global Research (February 07 2020)

Featured image is from OneWorld

The Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan shared his visionary plans for CPEC+, the neologism that’s becoming popular in Pakistan nowadays to refer to the expansion of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor along different geographic axes such as the northern (N-CPEC+), western (W-CPEC+), and southern (S-CPEC+) ones. Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported on Ambassador Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini’s lecture at the Islamabad Strategic Studies Institute (ISSI) earlier this week, which deserves to be analyzed more in depth.

According to Ambassador Hosseini,



Establishment of rail network between Gwadar and Chabahar and its link up to Europe and Central Asia through Iran, will usher major economic development in the region. On the other hand, construction of railway track on Pakistani territory to China, linking the two ports will lead towards economic development in this region.


In practice, this would fulfill what the author wrote about W-CPEC+ in his CGTN analysis last April titled “CPEC+ is the key to achieving regional integration goals”.

In that piece, he wrote that



Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s recent visit to Iran saw the two neighboring countries agreeing to deepen their cooperation with one another, which could foreseeably evolve to the point of a W-CPEC+ overland trade route eventually traveling through the Islamic Republic to Islamabad and Beijing’s partners in Turkey, which could be paired with a parallel maritime corridor connecting CPEC’s terminal point of Gwadar with the Gulf Kingdoms.


That’s exactly what Ambassador Hosseini proposed during his lecture at ISSI (minus the part about the Gulf Kingdoms), which could revolutionize Iran’s geostrategic role in the emerging Multipolar World Order and consequently make it one of the most important countries of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) if successfully implemented with time. Not only could this have significant economic implications, but also significant political ones as well.

The Ambassador is also quoted by Anadolu Agency as saying that “Countries like Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Russia, and China have the potential to form a new alliance for better future of the region”. While China and Russia eschew the term “alliance” to describe their close relations with other countries, the intent of his words is clear enough in that he’s calling for a strengthened strategic partnership between all five of those countries. This becomes a realistic possibility between China, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey if W-CPEC+ is completed.

As for Russia, it could be brought on board this ambitious connectivity proposal if W-CPEC+ is expanded to include it via Azerbaijan by following the path proposed by the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) that those two, Iran and India, are trying to build. Moreover, the pioneering of a Russia-Pakistan trade corridor via post-war Afghanistan and Central Asia (N-CPEC+) could greatly contribute to making Moscow a greater stakeholder in this CPEC-centric strategic quintet that some have called the “Golden Ring“.

BRI-led Eurasian integration processes are one of the defining characteristics of contemporary International Relations, and the Golden Ring could eventually become the centerpiece of these efforts if Ambassador Hosseini’s W-CPEC+ proposal succeeds, especially if it’s done in parallel with N-CPEC+. The five anchor states of this connectivity vision could be linked to one another and the states between them (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and the Central Asian Republics) through a multitude of rail and other transport corridors built by China.

Through these means, China would be functioning as the engine of Eurasian integration and tying all of the involved countries closer together in a Community of Shared Destiny. The complex interdependence that would emerge as a result of this vision would make each party a greater stakeholder in one another’s success, with the construction of multilateral megaprojects giving their citizens unprecedented economic opportunities. The CPEC-centric Golden Ring would, therefore, strengthen stability in the geostrategic Heartland of Eurasia.


This article was originally published at

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Copyright (c) Andrew Korybko, Global Research, 2020

The silent threat of the coronavirus

America’s dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals

by Christine Crudo Blackburn (February 12 2020)

A police officer in Beijing adjusts his face mask, which millions in China are using in hopes of preventing coronavirus infection, on Feb. 9, 2020. The virus is causing major disruptions. AP Photo/Andy Wong

As the new coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV, spreads rapidly around the globe, the international community is scrambling to keep up. Scientists rush to develop a vaccine, policymakers debate the most effective containment methods, and health care systems strain to accommodate the growing number of sick and dying. Though it may sound like a scene from the 2011 movie Contagion, it is actually an unfolding reality.

In the midst of all of this, a potential crisis simmers in the shadows: The global dependence on China for the production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

Employees work at the center for early phase pharmaceutical development of Asymchem Laboratories Inc, a medical company, on December 04 2019 in Tianjin, China. Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images


Chinese dominance in the pharmaceutical market

We represent an interdisciplinary group of scientists and policymakers at the Scowcroft Institute’s Pandemic and Biosecurity Policy Program based at the Bush School of Government at Texas A&M University who have been holding annual summits addressing pandemic-related issues for the past five years. One of our goals is to promote dialogue on potential risks related to pandemics and US security, in this case, the disruption of supply chains and the availability of medical supplies and drugs.

Today, about 80% of pharmaceuticals sold in the US are produced in China. This number, while concerning, hides an even greater problem: China is the largest and sometimes only global supplier for the active ingredient of some vital medications. The active ingredients for medicines that treat breast cancer and lung cancer and the antibiotic Vancomycin, which is a last resort antibiotic for some types of antimicrobial-resistant infections, are made almost exclusively in China. Additionally, China controls such a large market portion of heparin, a blood thinner used in open-heart surgery, kidney dialysis, and blood transfusions that the US government was left with no choice but to continue buying from China even after a contamination scandal in 2007.

China is not only the dominant global supplier of pharmaceuticals, but it is also the largest supplier of medical devices in the US. These include things like MRI equipment, surgical gowns, and equipment that measures oxygen levels in the blood. Supplies of these essential products have not yet been severely disrupted by the coronavirus, but if China is no longer willing or able to supply them to the US, thousands of Americans could die.

More concerning still are the limited options available to the US and the rest of the globe to make up the shortfall. It could take years to develop the necessary infrastructure to reestablish US manufacturing capacities and obtain Food and Drug Administration licensure to overcome the loss of the Chinese supply.

When a disease reaches epidemic levels, the first obligation for leaders in any country is to protect their own people. As this current crisis progresses, there may come a point when political leaders in China will face decisions on whether to prohibit the export of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other vital medical components in order to treat or protect their own people. Such acts would be the logical outcome of an escalating situation. For the 2009 H1N1 pandemic response, for example, the US was pushed to the back of the queue for vaccine deliveries even though we had existing contracts with a major vaccine manufacturer located in another country. Those vaccine deliveries were delayed.

A man wearing a protective face mask sits at a cafe in Beijing on February 09 2020. A shortage of proactive masks in China is causing many Chinese to stay home. AP Photo/Andy Wong

Disruption of global pharmaceuticals?

While a total loss of active ingredient imports from China might seem far-fetched, we believe the increasing scale of the outbreak moves it closer to the realm of possibility.

About six weeks into international recognition of the epidemic in China, there are already shortages of vital personal protective equipment in both China and the US. UPS has transported more than 2 million masks and 11,000 gowns to Wuhan to help alleviate the shortage. But what happens when everyone runs out of protective equipment?

Wuhan is a significant player in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, with multiple pharmaceutical companies located in the city. How many of these factories have closed as a result of the pandemic, and when will those that have closed open back up? Global supply chains could reach a crisis point if they are compromised because Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, is in quarantine and factories are shut down.

Additionally, Wuhan is the location of China’s first Biosafety Level (BSL) 4 laboratory, which was opened in 2017 to research SARS and other emerging diseases. It is the only lab in China that can safely handle the world’s most dangerous pathogens that pose a significant risk of transmission. Infection, death, and quarantine in Wuhan and the surrounding Hubei province are restricting the ability of all types of commerce in the region. Meanwhile, the virus is already creating a significant supply chain imbalance within China. That means those medical supply companies will be under pressure to keep any products produced within the country for protection of their own health-care workers, laboratory personnel, and the general public.

The regulatory apparatus to ensure that the Chinese manufactured pharmaceuticals being exported meet the highest standards of safety and quality control are weak or nonexistent, according to a congressional report last year. The pressure placed on supply chains by the outbreak could further exacerbate existing quality control challenges. In doing so, the virus has highlighted our reliance on China as a US national security issue due to outsourcing our manufacturing capabilities and our inability to ensure quality control.

As with all pandemics, the complexity of this outbreak demands international collaboration and transparency. At the same time, US public health officials must acknowledge the country’s vulnerability due to our dependence on Chinese production of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. The US must develop a response plan for the inevitable shortages in the near-term and take necessary actions to reclaim control of our medical supply chain. Continuing to overlook this long-known vulnerability will only lead to catastrophe.

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Beyond Ukraine

America’s Coming (Losing) Battle For Eurasia

by US Army Major Danny Sjursen (retired) (February 06 2020) (February 08 2020)

Academic historians reject anything smacking of inevitably. Instead, they emphasize the contingency of events as manifested through the inherent agency of human beings and the countless decisions they make. On the merits, such scholars are basically correct. That said, there was something – if not inevitable – highly probable, almost (forgive me) deterministic about the two cataclysmic world wars of the 20th century. Both, in retrospect, were driven, in large part, by collective – particularly Western – nations’ adherence to a series of geopolitical philosophies.

The first war – which killed perhaps nine million soldiers in the sodden trench lines (among other long-forgotten places) of Europe – began, in part, due to the continental, and especially maritime, competition between Imperial Great Britain, and a new, rising, and highly populous, land power, Imperial Germany. Both had pretensions to global leadership; Britain’s old and long-standing, Germany’s recent and aspirational – tinged with a sense of long-denied deservedness. Political and military leaders on both sides – along with other European (and the Japanese) nations – then pledged philosophical fealty to the theories of an American Navy man, Alfred Thayer Mahan. To simplify, Mahan’s core postulation – published from a series of lectures as The Influence of Sea Power Upon History (1890) – was that geopolitical power in the next (20th) century would be inherently maritime. The countries that maintained large, modern navies, held strategic coaling stations, and expanded their coastal, formal empires, would dominate trade, develop the strongest economies, and, hence, were apt to global paramountcy. Conversely, traditional land power – mass armies prepared to march across vast landmasses – would become increasingly irrelevant.

Mahan’s inherently flawed, or at least exaggerated, conclusions – and his own clear institutional (US Navy) bias – aside, key players in two of the major powers of Europe seemed to buy the philosophy hook-line-and-sinker. So, when Wilhelmine Germany took the strategic decision to rapidly expand its own colonial fiefdoms (before the last patches of brown-people-inhabited land were swallowed up) and, thereby necessarily embarked on a crash naval buildup to challenge the British Empire’s maritime supremacy, the stage was set for a massive war. And, with most major European rivals – hopelessly hypnotized by nationalism – locked in a wildly byzantine, bipolar alliance system, all that was needed to turn the conflict global was a spark: enter the assassin Gavrilo Princip, a pistol, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and it was game on.

The Second World War – which caused between 50 and 60 million deaths – was, of course, an outgrowth of the first. Its causes were multifaceted and complicated. Nonetheless, particularly in its European theater, it, too, was driven by a geopolitical theorist and his hypotheses. This time the culprit was a Briton, Halford John Mackinder. In contrast with Mahan, Mackinder postulated a land-based, continental power theory. As such, he argued that the “pivot” of global preeminence lay in the control of Eurasia – the “World Island” – specifically Central Asia and Eastern Europe. These resource-rich lands held veritable buried treasure for the hegemon, and, since they lay on historical trade routes, were strategically positioned.

Should an emergent, ambitious, and increasingly populated, power – say, Nazi Germany – need additional territory (what Hitler called “Lebensraum”) for its race, and resources (especially oil) for its budding war machine, then it needed to seize the strategic “heartland” of the World Island. In practice, that meant the Nazis theoretically should, and did, shift their gaze (and planned invasion) from their outmoded Mahanian rival across the English Channel, eastward to Ukraine, Caucasus (with its ample oil reserves), and Central Asia. Seeing as all three regions were then – and to a lesser extent, still – dominated by Russia, the then Soviet Union, the unprecedentedly bloody existential war on Europe’s Eastern Front appears ever more certain and explainable.

Germany lost both those wars: the first badly, the second, disastrously. Then, in a sense, the proceeding 45-year Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union – the only two big winners in the Second World War – may be seen as an extension or sequel to Mackinder-driven rivalry. The problem is that after the end of – at least the first – Cold War, Western, especially American, strategists severely miscalculated. In their misguided triumphalism, US geopolitical theorists both provoked a weak (but not forever so) Russia by expanding the Nato alliance far eastward, but posited premature (and naive) theories that assumed global finance, free (American-skewed) trade, and digital dominance were all that mattered in a “Post” Cold War world.

No one better defined this magical thinking more than the still – after having been wrong about just about every US foreign policy decision of the last two decades – prominent New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman. In article after article, and books with such catchy titles as The World is Flat, and The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Friedman argued, essentially, that old realist geopolitics were dead, and all that really mattered for US hegemony was the proliferation of McDonald’s franchisees worldwide.

Friedman was wrong; he always is (Exhibit A: the 2003 Iraq War). Today, with a surprisingly – at least with his prominent base – popular president, Donald J Trump, impeached in the House and just acquitted by the Senate for alleged crimes misleadingly summed up as “Ukraine-gate”, a look at the real issues at hand in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, demonstrate that, for better or (probably) worse, the ghost of Mackinder still haunts the scene. For today, I’d argue, the proxy battle over Ukraine between the US and its allied, coup-empowered government, which includes some neo-nazi political and military elements, and Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east, reflects a return to the battle for Eurasian resource and geographic predominance.

Neither Russia nor the United States is wholly innocent in fueling and escalating the ongoing Ukrainian Civil War. The difference is, that in post-Russiagate farce, chronically (especially among mainstream Democrats) alleged Russia-threat-obsessed America, reports of Moscow’s ostensible guilt literally saturate the media space. The reporting from Washington? Not so much.

The truth is that a generation of prominent “liberal” American, born-again Russia-hawks – Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, the whole DNC apparatus, and the MSNBC corporate media crowd – wielded State Department, NGO, and economic pressure to help catalyze a pro-Western coup in Ukraine during and after 2014. Their opportunism seemed, to them, simple, and relatively cost-free, at the time, but has turned implacably messy in the ensuing years.

In the process, the Democrats haven’t done themselves any political favors, further sullying what’s left of their reputation by – in some cases – colluding with Ukrainians to undermine key Trump officials; and consorting with nefarious far-right nationalist local bigots (who may have conspired to kill protesters in the Maidan “massacre”, as a means to instigate further Western support for the coup). What’s more, while much of the conspiratorial Trump-team spin on direct, or illegal, Biden-family criminality has proven false, neither Joe nor son Hunter, are exactly “clean”. The Democratic establishment, Biden specifically, may, according to an excellent recent Guardian editorial, have a serious “corruption problem” – not least of which involves explaining exactly why a then sitting vice president’s son, who had no serious diplomatic or energy sector experience, was paid $50,000 a month to serve on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.

Fear not, the “Never-Trump” Republicans, and establishment Democrats seemingly intent on drumming up a new – presumably politically profitable – Cold War have a ready explanation. They’ve dug up the long-ago discredited, but still publicly palatable, justification that the US must be prepared to fight Russia “over there”, before it has no choice but to battle them “over here” (though it’s long been unclear where “here” is, or how, exactly, that fantasy comes to pass). First, there’s the distance factor: though several thousands of miles away from the East Coast of North America, Ukraine is in Russia’s near-abroad. After all, it was long – across many different generational political/imperial structures – part of the Soviet Union or other Russian empires. A large subsection of the populace, especially in the East, speaks, and considers itself, in part, culturally, Russian.

Furthermore, the Russian threat, in 2020, is highly exaggerated. Putin is not Stalin. The Russian Federation is not the Soviet Union; and, hell, even the Soviet (non-nuclear) military threat and geopolitical ambitions were embellished throughout Cold War “Classic”. A simple comparative “tale-of-the-tape” illustrates as much. Economically and demographically, Russia is demonstrably an empirically declining power – its economy, in fact, about the size of Spain’s.

Nor is the defense of an imposed, pro-Western, Ukrainian proxy state a vital American national security interest worth bleeding, or risking nuclear war, over. As MIT’s Barry Posen has argued, “Vital interests affect the safety, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and power position of the United States”, and, “If in the worst case, all Ukraine were to ‘fall’ to Russia, it would have little impact on the security of the United States”. Furthermore, as retired US Army colonel, and president of the restraint-based Quincy Institute, Andrew Bacevich, has advised, the best policy, if discomfiting, is to “tacitly acknowledge[e] the existence of a Russian sphere of influence”. After all, Washington would expect, actually demand, the same acquiescence of Moscow in Mexico, Canada, or, for that matter, the entire Americas.

Unfortunately, no such restrained prudence is likely, so long as the bipartisan American national security state continues to subscribe to some vague version of the Mackinder theory. Quietly, except among wonky regional experts and investigative reporters on the scene, the US has, before, but especially since the “opportunity” of the 9/11 attacks, entered full-tilt into a competition with Russia and China for physical, economic, and resource dominance from Central Asia to the borderlands of Eastern Europe. That’s why, as a student at the Army’s Command and General Staff College in 2016~2017, all us officers focused almost exclusively on planning fictitious, but highly realistic, combat missions in the Caucasus region. It also partly explains why the US military, after 18+ years, remains ensconced in potentially $3 trillion resource-rich Afghanistan, which, not coincidentally, is America’s one serious physical foothold in land-locked Central Asia.

Anecdotally, but instructively, I remember well my four brief stops at the once-ubiquitous US Air Force way-station into Afghanistan – Manas Airbase – in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Off-base “liberty” – even for permanent party airmen – was rare, in part, because the Russian military had a mirror base just across the city. What’s more, the previous, earlier stopover spot for Afghanistan – Uzbekistan – kicked out the US military in 2005, in part, due to Russian political and economic pressure to do so.

Central Asia and East Europe are also contested spaces regarding the control of competing – Western versus Russian versus Chinese – oil and natural gas pipeline routes and trade corridors. Remember, that China’s massive “One Belt – One Road” infrastructure investment program is mostly self-serving, if sometimes mutually beneficial. The plan means to link Chinese manufacturing to the vast consumerist European market mainly through transportation, pipeline, diplomatic, and military connections running through where? You guessed it: Central Asia, the Caucasus, and on through Eastern Europe.

Like it or not, America isn’t poised to win this battle, and its feeble efforts to do so in these remarkably distant locales smacks of global hegemonic ambitions and foolhardy, mostly risk, nearly no reward, behavior. Russia has a solid army in close proximity, a hefty nuclear arsenal, as well as physical and historical connections to the Eurasian Heartland; China has an even better, more balanced, military, enough nukes, and boasts a far more powerful, spendthrift-capable, economy. As for the US, though still militarily and (for now) economically powerful, it lacks proximity, faces difficult logistical/expeditionary challenges, and has lost much legitimacy and squandered oodles of goodwill with the regional countries being vied for. Odds are, that while war may not be inevitable, Washington’s weak hand and probable failure, nearly is.

Let us table, for the purposes of this article, questions regarding any environmental effects of the great powers’ quest for, extraction, and use of many of these regional resources. My central points are two-fold:

First, that Ukraine – which represents an early stage in Washington’s rededication to chauvinist, Mackinder geostrategy – as a proxy state for war with Russia is not an advisable or vital interest;

Second, that Uncle Sam’s larger quest to compete with the big two (Eur)Asian powers is likely to fail and symptomatic of imperial confusion and desperation.

As the US enters an increasingly bipolar phase of world affairs, powerful national security leaders fear its diminishing power. Washington’s is, like it or not, an empire in decline; and, as we know from history, such entities behave badly on the downslope of hegemony. Call me cynical, but I’m apt to believe that the United States, as perhaps the most powerful imperial body of all time, is apt, and set, to act poorest of all.

The proxy fight in Ukraine, battle for Central Asia in general – to say nothing of related American aggression and provocations in Iran and the Persian Gulf – could be the World War Three catalyst that the Evangelical militarist nuts, Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, unwilling to wait on Jesus Christ’s eschatological timeline, have long waited for. These characters seemingly possess the heretical temerity to believe man – white American men, to be exact – can and should incite or stimulate Armageddon and the Rapture.

If they’re proved “right” or have their way – and the Mike’s just might – then nuclear cataclysm will have defied the Vegas odds and beat the house on the expected human extinction timeline. Only contra to the bloody prophecy set forth in the New Testament book of Revelations, it won’t be Jesus wielding his vengeful sword on the back of a white horse, but – tragic and absurdly – the perfect Antichrist stooge, pressing the red button, who does the apocalyptic deed.


Danny Sjursen is a retired US Army officer and regular contributor to His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, Huff Post, The Hill, Salon, Truthdig, Tom Dispatch, among other publications. He served combat tours with reconnaissance units in Iraq and Afghanistan and later taught history at his alma mater, West Point. He is the author of a memoir and critical analysis of the Iraq War, Ghostriders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge (2015). His forthcoming book, Patriotic Dissent: America in the Age of Endless War, is available for preorder on Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @SkepticalVet. Check out his professional website for contact info, scheduling speeches, and/or access to the full corpus of his writing and media appearances.